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Tacit knowing of thralls – style negotiation among the unfree in 11th and 12th C. Sweden.

Roslund, Mats LU (2014) In Archaeology, Syncretism, Creolisation
Abstract
In this paper, cultural transmission between Slavs and Scandinavians from ca 900 to 1250 is discussed. Cultural identity and identity negotiation through style are topics often studied in higher social strata of societies. Emblemic style is maintained and displayed in jewellery or other eye-catching parts of the material culture to distinguish oneself in relation to others. However, the construction and negotiation of identities occur on all social levels within a population, including neglected and disrespected individuals. Such a group is the unfree in Late Viking Age and High Medieval Scandinavia. Slavery was culturally and economically embedded in agricultural as well as artisanal production until it was legally discarded in 1335.... (More)
In this paper, cultural transmission between Slavs and Scandinavians from ca 900 to 1250 is discussed. Cultural identity and identity negotiation through style are topics often studied in higher social strata of societies. Emblemic style is maintained and displayed in jewellery or other eye-catching parts of the material culture to distinguish oneself in relation to others. However, the construction and negotiation of identities occur on all social levels within a population, including neglected and disrespected individuals. Such a group is the unfree in Late Viking Age and High Medieval Scandinavia. Slavery was culturally and economically embedded in agricultural as well as artisanal production until it was legally discarded in 1335. Thraels and ambátts, the female term for slave, are not easily discerned as a social category in archaeological sources. However, it is possible to argue that they were responsible for the production of every day ceramics on the household level. They can be observed at least until the professionalisation of pottery production in the beginning of the 13th century.



By the turn of the Millenium 1000 AD, pottery style changed radically in eastern Denmark and southern Sweden. For centuries, simple cooking- and storage pots were made without significant attention to style. The rearrangement to Slav style ceramics was a technological as well as stylistic and social change within society. By using a non-hierarchic typology it is possible to discern processes of hybridisation between unfree Slavs and Scandinavians. Regional production- and consumption patterns emerge, revealing political and economic differences between territories in Sweden. Hidden in the archaeological observations is a process revealing the acceptance of Slav traditions, thus challenging our view of a homogenous Scandinavian society in the Late Viking Age.



Theories on agency and style transfer are often referred to as a part of the structuration processes within groups. These perspectives do not adequately answer the question how the transfer occurs on a human level. To grasp the intricate process of identity negotiation we must consider the temporal and social premises. The societal meanings of the objects must be defined and acknowledged. Pottery for household consumption is not displayed in a conspicuous way. Sooted and hidden in the storage rooms it is handled by the lowliest persons in Late Viking Age and High Medieval society, ambátts or female slaves. When a change occur in this social context we may suspect not so much peer interaction as individuals living in close quarters, observing and learning by doing. Michael Polanyis theoretical approach on tacit knowledge is used as a possible means to understand how the Slav-Scandinavian encounter resulted in hybridity and social change. (Less)
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organization
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Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
submitted
subject
keywords
historical archaeology, middle ages, social identity, hybridisation, creolisation, ceramics, slaves, thralls, cultural transmission
in
Archaeology, Syncretism, Creolisation
editor
Clack, Timothy
publisher
Oxford University Press
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3b5bbcc9-798c-4a10-92ed-b8f000c257e9 (old id 3122527)
date added to LUP
2012-09-27 16:14:20
date last changed
2016-04-16 08:27:24
@misc{3b5bbcc9-798c-4a10-92ed-b8f000c257e9,
  abstract     = {In this paper, cultural transmission between Slavs and Scandinavians from ca 900 to 1250 is discussed. Cultural identity and identity negotiation through style are topics often studied in higher social strata of societies. Emblemic style is maintained and displayed in jewellery or other eye-catching parts of the material culture to distinguish oneself in relation to others. However, the construction and negotiation of identities occur on all social levels within a population, including neglected and disrespected individuals. Such a group is the unfree in Late Viking Age and High Medieval Scandinavia. Slavery was culturally and economically embedded in agricultural as well as artisanal production until it was legally discarded in 1335. Thraels and ambátts, the female term for slave, are not easily discerned as a social category in archaeological sources. However, it is possible to argue that they were responsible for the production of every day ceramics on the household level. They can be observed at least until the professionalisation of pottery production in the beginning of the 13th century. <br/><br>
<br/><br>
By the turn of the Millenium 1000 AD, pottery style changed radically in eastern Denmark and southern Sweden. For centuries, simple cooking- and storage pots were made without significant attention to style. The rearrangement to Slav style ceramics was a technological as well as stylistic and social change within society. By using a non-hierarchic typology it is possible to discern processes of hybridisation between unfree Slavs and Scandinavians. Regional production- and consumption patterns emerge, revealing political and economic differences between territories in Sweden. Hidden in the archaeological observations is a process revealing the acceptance of Slav traditions, thus challenging our view of a homogenous Scandinavian society in the Late Viking Age.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Theories on agency and style transfer are often referred to as a part of the structuration processes within groups. These perspectives do not adequately answer the question how the transfer occurs on a human level. To grasp the intricate process of identity negotiation we must consider the temporal and social premises. The societal meanings of the objects must be defined and acknowledged. Pottery for household consumption is not displayed in a conspicuous way. Sooted and hidden in the storage rooms it is handled by the lowliest persons in Late Viking Age and High Medieval society, ambátts or female slaves. When a change occur in this social context we may suspect not so much peer interaction as individuals living in close quarters, observing and learning by doing. Michael Polanyis theoretical approach on tacit knowledge is used as a possible means to understand how the Slav-Scandinavian encounter resulted in hybridity and social change.},
  author       = {Roslund, Mats},
  editor       = {Clack, Timothy},
  keyword      = {historical archaeology,middle ages,social identity,hybridisation,creolisation,ceramics,slaves,thralls,cultural transmission},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x9a43be8)},
  series       = {Archaeology, Syncretism, Creolisation},
  title        = {Tacit knowing of thralls – style negotiation among the unfree in 11th and 12th C. Sweden.},
  year         = {2014},
}